sleep herbs

The Sleep Herb – Valerian Root
Valerian root has long been used a sleep herb. It has also been used as a natural remedy for nervousness and anxiety since the time of ancient Rome. Valerian root was mentioned by Pliny the Elder (ancient Rome) as a cure for nervousness, while other Greek and Roman physicians used it to cure insomnia and to treat coughs and asthma. The calming effects of valerian was appreciated by European soldiers and civilians during World War I, who used it to treat “overwrought nerves” attributed to artillery shelling. Valerian was part of the United States Pharmacopeia until 1942, and part of the National Formulary until 1950. It is still part of many official pharmacopeias in Europe today, and is widely used there as a sedative. Its medicinal benefits have also been confirmed by modern scientific research.
How valerian works.
The benefits of valerian root have been documented over and over again. It relieves anxiety and insomnia both. In 1966 a group of chemicals called valepotriates were isolated from valerian and later found, like modern sleep drugs, to have a depressive effect on the central nervous system. In later animal research with these compounds, these findings were thrown into doubt. As yet, the exact mechanism by which valerian helps induce sleep is not known. It is thought to have an action similar to that of the neurotransmitter GABA.
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The benefits of valerian root for insomnia..
Valerian benefits a number of aspects of sleep, called sleep parameters. These sleep parameters are used by researchers to assess the overall quality of someone’s sleep. Some of the sleep parameters that are improved with valerian are:
It decreases “sleep latency”. Sleep latency is how long it takes to get to sleep after turning out the lights. Valerian shortens the time it takes to get to sleep.
It lengthens the “final wake time after sleep”. If you go to bed at a certain time, valerian root lengthens how long you stay in bed. Another way of saying it is it extends the time until you finally wake up and get up. This is a measure of how long you sleep from lights out to finally getting up in the morning. Or put simply valerian increases how long you sleep.
Valerian decreases how frequently you waken at night.
Valerian decreases nighttime motor activity or how restless you are during sleep. Valerian has muscle relaxing effects and decreases movement in bed at night.
Valerian improves the quality of sleep. Just because you sleep eight hours doesn’t mean that you’re getting healthy sleep. Researchers evaluate the health of sleep by looking at what is called your sleep structure. Do you go through all of the cycles of sleep normally? Do you spend the appropriate amount of time in REM and non-REM sleep, in deep sleep? These factors are all part of a healthy sleep structure.

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